Archive for December 10th, 2007

1st (nation) words from Jihan in Bali.

[FYI: To save time, energy and $ we’ve streamlined the process for the EJCC crew to get their words out on the net- they will be sending their words to me to distribute on this and other blogs. Me, being Oriana, whom YOU can also contact if you have questions, suggestion or information for the EJCC crew on the ground in Bali. [ or 510.459.4639 cellphone] ]

It Ain’t Easy Being Indian

Jihan Gearon

December 10, 2007

Today was my first day at the UNFCCC- that’s the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for those of you who don’t know. Also known as COP13/MOP3. That’s the Thirteenth Conference of the Parties/Third Meeting of the Parties for those of you who haven’t asked somebody. Lotsa words isn’t it? You don’t know the half of it.

I started my day by attending the Indigenous Peoples caucus where the group was busy creating text that we would hopefully be able to pass on to a member of the contact group for today’s focus, who would hopefully add it to their comments, that would hopefully make it’s way through the back and forths of the parties (countries), and hopefully end up in the final text of the Chairman. In short, we spent a lot of time trying to make the UNFCCC process and outcomes better for Indigenous Peoples by making as few changes as possible to an existing document, all the while fully aware that it is very unlikely that our suggestions will be adopted or even listened to.

I am by no means saying that the hard work put in by the Indigenous Peoples caucus or any of the Indigenous People attending the COP is stupid or useless. I have great respect for them because I understand our cultures are tied to our surroundings and in order for our cultures to survive (for us to survive), our environments have to survive. Therefore, I know that these Indigenous People are here at the UN for the right reasons and their input will give the right outcomes.

What I am saying is that Indigenous People need a much bigger and better seat at the table. Our communities and livelihoods are the first affected by climate change. We are also the most affected by the unsustainable solutions being proposed to solve climate change – nuclear power, clean coal, carbon sequestration, reforestation, carbon trading, etc, etc, etc. Yet, instead of having real input in the UNFCCC process, we have to spend our time picking through words. And while we’re busy doing that, those people who want to sacrifice us to put some dollars in their pockets, make the decisions.

This past September 13th, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which protects the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their lands, territories and environment. Yet through the faulty process and false climate change solutions of the UNFCCC, it’s these fundamental human rights that are being violated.

The Indigenous Peoples here in Bali are asking the UN to live up to their words, to listen to us, and to stop with the false solutions that devastate our lands, threaten our ways of life, and deny our human rights.

Damn. Even in the paradise that is Bali, thousands of miles and dozens of hours away from home, in the midst of world leaders, I’m reminded it ain’t easy being Indian.

Stay tuned for updates, interviews, pictures, and videos of the Indigenous presence at COP13/MOP3 in Bali, Indonesia.
Jihan is Navajo and African American from Fort Defiance, Arizona on the eastern side of the Navajo Nation. She is a Stanford graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Earth Systems and a focus in Energy Science and Technology. She currently works as the Native Energy Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network and works out of Flagstaff, Arizona. In this role, Jihan works to build the capacity of and connect Indigenous communities throughout the U.S. and Canada who are impacted by oil and gas development and climate change. Previous to her employment with IEN, Jihan was a Program Associate with the Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC). She was also a member of the inaugural class of the EJCC’s Climate Justice Corps.



December 2007
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